Today I Learned What a Jewnicorn Is
Here is a lengthy email I got from Safy-Hallan Farah over Ryan’s post on Gawker about the surprisingly vibrant The Social Network fanfic community. (She mistakenly thought I wrote it.) Safy took issue with his characterization of the work of the community as ‘Mark Zuckerberg fanfic.’ It’s really about the relationship between the actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, she explained.
Which brings us to the Jewnicorn. It is not Jeff Goldblum with a horn stuck to his forhead. Safy writes:
There is also a large segment of TSN fandom that believes Jesse Eisenberg, and Andrew Garfield are in an actual relationship. This part of the fandom is referred to as ‘Jewnicorn.’ Urban Dictionary defines ‘Jewnicorn’ as: “A word used by the incredibly quality faction of The Social Network fandom on Tumblr to describe Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg, as both of them are Jews who were clearly raised by unicorns in a magical forest somewhere.”
Judging from the most popular definition, the people of this fandom are well aware that it’s very likely a relationship between the two actors is as mythical as unicorns.
Judging from her Tumblr, Safy has been set upon by the TSN fandom community. (Admittedly, she seems to be enjoying it.) A lot of the fandom thinks that their community has been ruined by the exposure on Gawker, and Safy is contributing to its demise by trying to explain it to us. As one Twitter user put it: “UGH. long story short some idiot emailed Gawker telling them all about the TSN fandom and i mean EVERYTHING.”
Here’s another response from Iloveeveryoneinthistheatre
No. Just no. This is not okay. An entire fandom is compromised because you just couldn’t sit back and let our mild humiliation pass. Now, it is tenfold. You haven’t proven that we are educated people and proud of who we are, because, for the most part, though educated, we aren’t proud of what we do, that’s why we hide behind sceennames and do all of our shrill, screamy fangirly ranting deep within the shadows of what most people refer to as the weird corner of the internet (tumblr and livejournal share a block with 4chan, don’tcha know), where adults caution their kids not to go. And not only did you go, ‘hey look at us freaks, please objectify us in a future article’, you drew them a fucking map. They have keywords to search now, more fics will be locked or deleted and you should know that you are fully responsible for the collapse of fandom that will inevitably ensue. I hope you’re proud of your fandom and your accomplishments when 3/4 hates you for outing them without their consent. This isn’t cool. At all.
I’m pointing this out because I haven’t seen a community react so viscerally to being covered since I started writing about 4chan a couple summers ago. This was one, tiny post!
I love that these online communities foster a sense of intimacy that lets people behave and speak in ways they wouldn’t in the real world. I’d probably be out of a job without it, given how much I cover the odd corners of the web. But I’ve never understood the moral indignation when someone from the outside takes an interest. When something like TSN fandom happens entirely on the open web, you can’t be shocked when someone else links to it. That’s the internet, and I suspect part of the thrill of taking part in these communities is the possibility that anyone can stumble on it.
For better or worse, the bubble’s been popped, and Safy did a good thing by trying to explain to me what was actually going on. You should definitely check out her whole letter.
(Oh, and you can follow the whole Jewnicorn drama with this Tumblr search.)